2007-02-08: Directions


Niki_icon.gif Cass_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Gina

Summary: Cass accidentally (with some spying) finds the woman who helped her at the bank during its recent robbery and points her in the right path.

Date It Happened: February 8th, 2007


East Village, New York

Night has fallen in the East Village, and with it arrived a classic Cadillac. Shiny, red. Convertible, not that such a detail matters in the dead of winter when the hood is up. Parked several spaces up from Enlightment Books, Niki sits with her hands tightly gripping the steering wheel, although the engine is silenced. Her windows are down despite the cold and the streetlights shine in on her. "Please, why can't you just /leave me alone/," the woman is telling someone firmly, desperately, even though there isn't another soul in the vehicle. "Stop trying to ruin my chances at a normal life!"

Stepping out the door to that same bookstore that Niki is parked close by to is Cass. Her coat on with the collar flipped up and a scarf wrapped around her neck and chin to keep off the cold, she closes the door firmly behind her and pulls out her somewhat massive set of keys and starts the process of locking up the store. It's a couple of locks on the door, but there's no large metallic grid thing to pull down, which she thinks is a plus. Rearranging her large canvas messenger bag, she starts off down the sidewalk when she hears Niki's desperate cry. That doesn't sound good at all and she looks around to see where it might have come from. All she can see is the car and she cautiously moves in that direction to investigate.

"Oh come on, Niki. What, would you rather Jessica? Lighten up a little. When did you get so boring?"

It's a voice that Cass can't hear, a face she can't see even if she were close enough, but the woman in the car certainly can. She's looking in her rearview mirror with her face twisted into anger; as the bookstore owner approaches, Niki is in the process of pushing it away. She leans back in the seat, closing her eyes with a tired sigh. After the moment passes - you know, the moment where she feels like she's losing it (as much as it ever truly passes), she pokes her head out the driver's side window to look up and down the street, looking at it as if she's seeing it for the first time. Like she has no idea where she is. It's in this confused sweep that she spots Cass; all she does is stare at first - not rudely, just in surprise.

It's true, Cass can't hear the words in response. Nor can she see who Niki's arguing with. It was even Niki that she heard. Really, it's night in the East Village and she really shouldn't be investigating anything. That's what gets people onto the front page of newspapers for going missing. As Niki pokes her head out of the car, Cass stops her approach in surprise. She's kind of in an awkward position, half crouch, half spy pose. Just as surprised, it takes her a second, but she straightens. Pulling down the sort of mask she's made of her scarf, she stares at the woman for a second. "Niki? You alright?"

After a few more seconds of confused staring at the unexpected woman, wondering just how long she was there, Niki breaks into a tenuous smile - unsure at first, but gradually much friendlier. "Hey." She drags a hand through her pale hair, shaking her head at the same time. That unspoken 'no' may be the answer to Cass's question, but it doesn't match her words. "Oh— yeah, I'm fine. What are…" She looks up and down the street. "Actually, this is embarrassing," she adds, wincing through her smile, "I'm a little lost." No wonder - her liscence plates are from Nevada.

It's weird for Cass to see Niki again so soon after what happened. Really, she's been thinking about her all night and day. It's hard to forget something so traumatizing. She watches Niki for a moment, a small frown creasing her lips easily picking up on the 'not really' part of her answer that was left out. She's more to the side of the car, so she can't see the plates yet, but it's easy for people to get lost in the village, it's where things get out of the grid. Finally, she smiles and realizes that she hasn't said anything for a couple of seconds. Then, she the smile widens. "Oh! You got your car back! I'm so glad." Pause. "Oh! Lost, don't worry about it, where do you need to go? I'm pretty good with directions. You know, I really wanted to help you get your car back somehow, I wasn't sure how. But by the time I figured something out you'd already gone and I didn't know how to find you again. So, I'm really happy I bumped into you again. But now you don't need the help. Obviously. So, um, I could buy you dinner or something sometime. As a thank you." Pause. "Oh! I'm not coming on to you. I'm straight. Not that there's anything wrong with being another way….or anyway. I'm all for it. I'm…um…" she realizes that this is a verbal trainwreck a little too late to do anything about it. "I just want to thank you."

"…Yeah…" Niki replies in regards to the car; she glances around the inside of it with veiled bewilderment. Throughout the remainder of Cass's rambling, she finds herself slowly starting to adopt a harmlessly amused smile, lifting her brows up as she watches the woman. "I need to get out of…" Another look around the unfamiliar street. "Where am I again? I have a map. I just need to get on the right road to get out of the city. I'm going to a place called Hartland."

Cass is always kind of wordy and it's easy to get her started. Now that she realizes what she's doing, though, she's trying to keep herself in check. "You're in the East Village, right on 3rd street." She thinks for a moment. "Hartland? I don't know where that is, honestly. It sounds really familiar, actually. Well, actually sounds like where I grew up, Hartsdale." See, less wordy. Just adding a couple of things that don't need to be in there.

"That's it," Niki says, tacking on a slightly embarrassed smile and rolling her eyes at herself. "Hartsdale. It's been a long day. And I'm … so not from around here. I'm really sorry - I'm actually starving, and I would get dinner with you, but it's sort of important that I get there as soon as humanly possible," she tells the woman apologetically. "I should have been there days ago."

"Oh? Seriously?" Cass pulls the scarf a little tighter and her neck and readjusts the strap of her bag. She's not trying to get anywhere else, it's just there's a lot of books in her bag and it's a little heavy. "Don't worry about it. I'll take a raincheck. It's pretty easy to get to Hartsdale, though. Not sure why anyone would want to go there unless they're just visiting parents, though."

"There's a hospital there," Niki answers with a vaguely optimistic tone to her voice. She smiles as she says it, as if by saying the words she's more encouraged. "You said 3rd street?" She glances down the street once more, then - with some hesitation - adjusts her rearview mirror to be aligned more safely, instead of the completely askew angle it was at before. She eyes the mirror transiently, darkly, turning a softer gaze to Cass afterward. "Thanks for your help. I think I have a vague idea of where I am now."

"Oh! I know! My dad's friends with a lot of the doctors at the hospital." Cass grins, happy to be able to talk about something they both, sort of, know. "He used to make fun of them for doing the daily grind. He's private practice, you know. Doctor, that is. And thought they were crazy for being over-stressed and underpaid." Pause. "He's, well, he's a hard guy to really understand." Then, seeing that Niki is clearly on her way to doing something else, she straightens. "Oh! Yeah sure. Directions and stuff are something I can definitely give. Here, let me give you my number. When you get back in town, give me a call for that dinner." Shuffling around in her bag, she pulls out a notebook, scribbles down her name and number and tears out the page to hand it over to Niki. "Good luck. Watch out, people love to cut you off on the New York highways."

"Really?" Cass's father being a doctor in Hartsdale seems hard to believe - that's written all over the blonde's features, but there's nothing to indicate she doesn't completely believe it, either. But it can't be the same hospital anyway. Niki takes the notepaper, smiling - but again, there's a touch of apology in that smile. The apology also touches her eyes as she looks up from her seat in the car. "I'll do that. For sure. It… might be awhile though." After tucking the paper into her purse that sits on the passenger seat, she starts the engine. "Most of the people I've met in New York have been really helpful. Even on the highway," she says, but thinks to add with a tiny smirk, "Just… not including the ones who try to rob banks."

Cass gives Niki a wry smile. It's hard to not see her disbelief. "It look like I just told you my father was a rock star or something. Okay, not a rock star, that'd be more admiration. A…well, I dunno. An alien. Or something. Though he kind of is, it's mostly just a metaphor." Though she sees the note of apology in Niki's smile, she decides to not pursue it. "No problem. You're the one who really helped me. I just want to make sure that you know how much I appreciated it. And, you know, Karma and everything. Give good back when you get good." She gives Niki a warm smile, one that's not hard to see she means, and stuffs her hands back into her pockets. "Take care. And I'll see you when you get back, whenever that may be. Be safe."

"We're even as far as I'm concerned," Niki tells Cass; maybe giving directions and lending a friendly smile isn't quite the same as throwing a criminal across the room for someone, but she's not using scales of logic. She gives the other woman a similarly sincere and warm smile as she starts to grip the steering wheel. "You too. Have a good night!" With that, the car pulls away from the curb and starts to roll down 3rd street. Maybe, just maybe, she'll get to her destination this time.

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